Chew on this.
There are over 22 lakh private vehicles in Mumbai, 8000 buses, 55000 taxis. Future shock: 550 new cars are registered every day in the city!
On Sunday, February 21, for the first time ever, Mumbai held a Car Free Day. It was held on one road only – Carter Road in Bandra. No cars were allowed. From 8am to 10pm, we had the roads to ourselves. People came in their cycles from all over.
The strange thing was some used their big cars to come with their cycles.
Our parents do not let us get on to the roads because of the cars. But today was different!
Having the road to ourselves was great fun. We cycled around without having to dodge dangerous traffic. People were walking around. A cyclothon was held.
We saw a troupe of capoeira dancers singing and dancing on the roads.
There were no fumes. There was no noise. But wait… did we say no noise? There was one irritating noise source – big speakers blaring some bad music, set up by local gyms. The gym people came to attend the car-free day with a bunch of stationery cycles.
What was the point of cycles that go nowhere? And all that noise! This was supposed to be a noise-free day. We weren’t the only ones who didn’t understand the presence of gym cycles. A city-based organisation that is campaigning to bring down noise levels in Bombay were also miffed with the noise levels. They were supposed to do a before and after noise survey on the day. We will be reporting on the survey soon.
We met many interesting people. This 73-year-old woman cycles every day in the evenings. She told us the car-free road was a huge relief for her and for her young niece.
And Sarabjeet and Aryan who came all the way from Worli in his cycle. Aryan is the son of a fruitseller who sits below Sarabjeet’s building. Aryan loves cycling and when he heard about the car-free day and the cyclathon, he was very excited. So Sarabjeet decided to bring him to Bandra. From Worli, Bandra is a long way — about 7 kilometres. That was quite a feat, guys!
We also met some people who have been using cycles as a mode of transport for a long time. Like Shamsher, this milkman.
And this newspaper delivery man. Both swear by cycling as a means to keep fit and healthy and keep the planet in good condition too.
We wish every Sunday was a car-free day. We hear Times Square in New York has become permanently car-free. Can we do that in Mumbai too?
You can watch a video report of this story on Jalebi Ink’s YouTube channel: Car-free day in Mumbai